Sunday, October 28, 2012

A New Lycaenid (for SG) Found at Bukit Brown

After breakfast at home on a nice Saturday morning (20 Oct), I had Lornie Trail (LT) in mind for my weekly outing and photographing session. When I alighted at the bus stop opposite SICC, a thought of  "checking out Bukit Brown" flashed through my mind. So instead of crossing the pedestrian overhead bridge to LT, I went straight and turned into Sime Road.  

What a serene and breezy  morning at Bukit Brown (BB) - tranquility and a peaceful ambiance characterised   this historical burial ground for many of our forefathers of  Singapore.

At the round-about, I began to see some common butterflies fluttering on a patch of overgrown grasses. Firstly, a very tiny Pygmy Grass Blue (Zizula hylax pygmaea) was still "sleeping" completely oblivious to the breeze and my presence.
A Peacock Pansy (Junonia almana javana) was nearby also, enjoying its morning sunbathing on a blade of grass seemed to be the best thing to do.
There were many "Ring" butterflies (Yathima species) flitting on a grass patch but somehow I felt that they were extremely skittish and liked to open their wings whenever they landed on something. So, this is the only shot I had.
I encountered a very skittish guy which kept flitting around without stopping for me to take a good look at what it was. Finally it gave in to my persistence and patience of waiting. This Tailless Line Blue (Prosotas dubiosa lumpura) perched on a dry leaf that was so close to me that I had do move my body backwards to  snap a few shots.
I encountered a few orange skippers. Firstly a rather large Potanthus species was feeding on the Asystasia flower at first. 
The next moment, it perched on a leaf and it didn't have the habit of opening its wings like many smaller orange skippers did. Dr Seow from ButterflyCircle suspected that it might be a P. pava .  
At another location, I spotted a few smaller Potanthus species - they tended to open their wings either  immediately or a few seconds later once they perched. This looks like a P. ganda before it took off in great speed.  
Two brown skippers were frolicking and dog-fighting. When they landed, I quickly snapped a few shots of one of them. This is the Contiguous Swift (Polytremis lubricans lubricans). 
At around 11:10 am, while I was walking towards the gate, I saw a few small lycaenids fluttering around some Mile-a-Minute (Mikania micrantha) flowers. I stood on the tarred road, patiently watching them and hoping that at least one of them would  perch. Yes, one of them did. I quickly walked past some graves and took a shot to see what it was - to my great surprsise, I could not identify this small and tailless butterfly immediately. So I inched myself nearer without stepping on the tombstones in front of me and got some better shots.
This fellow scooted off while I was trying to get even closer and parallel to the subject.  I examined the shots carefully and concluded that it was definitely not the Common Line Blue (Prosotas nora superdates) - another Prosotas species (see BC's write-up also) was discovered by me at BB.
What a coincidence is that I met Yi Kai (aka Lemon) at a dirt track just a few metres in front of the location. He told me that he was looking for the Golden Royal (Pseudotajuria donatana donatana) which someone had posted a picture on a forum - another surprise ! (I found out later that it was Anuj from NSS). When I showed him what I just shot, he immediately identified it as P. lutea which he shot in Fraser's Hill recently. I remember I shot this species back in 2008 at Taman Negara.

Butterfly fairy did not smile on me twice as I failed to find any lycaenids along the dirt tracks which lead me to the main gate.

So far there isn't any significant change to BB since my last visit in February this year except that exhumations of some graves have already begun. But once the construction of the proposed road that will cut through this "cultural treasure trove" begins, the biodiversity and the natural habitat at BB will be severely affected. I sincerely hope that the authority would put in its best effort to do something good to preserve our biodiversity.

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